American Experience – International Backdrop

egypt49516232Dear ISR, I’ve read the many comments teachers sent in reply to your article, Is Paying for Grades the Norm Grades the Norm? My observation, as owner of a school in a developing nation, is that your teachers really don’t want a true international experience. I think what they really want is a teaching experience just like in any school in America but with an international backdrop.

Teachers come over here with perceptions of how things should be, and when reality doesn’t meet their expectations they try to tailor the experience to an American criteria. When that plan is meet with opposition by the owners or administration, they post angry comments and reviews to your web site.

We don’t have much in the way of enforceable labor laws here. And it’s true (in many nations) that rich people can buy their way through life, laws are for poor people, contracts are often of little value, and schools are what the students (and parents) make of them. No, not everyone is equal here. We don’t do things over here like you do in America. So instead of wasting time and energy complaining about every, single perceived injustice, why don’t these teachers ‘go with the flow’, as you say in your country, and get a real international experience?

Teachers may see me as dishonest because I negotiate with parents, but in this culture I’m respected. I know your culture. I went to university in your country. If teachers want an American experience transposed into a different culture, I recommend they just stay home because it is not going to happen. At least not at my school!

Wishing you all the best,


Comments? Please Scroll Down to Post

53 thoughts on “American Experience – International Backdrop

  1. Dear Developing Country School Owner,

    A few points:

    You don’t “know” American culture simply because you got a degree in “America”; you have some idea but getting a university education in the U.S does not automatically confer a deep and meaningful understanding of the culture. Please stop assuming that it does.

    And while we’re at it, “America” isn’t a country, it’s one of two continents (North or South, take your pick). You studied in one of the countries located on one of those continents, judging from your post, none of which is named “America”. I dwell on this to point out the obvious: it doesn’t lend a lot of strength to your claim about knowing American culture if you can’t even get the name of the country you supposedly studied in right.

    Next, if your vision of an “international experience” entails being lied to and manipulated by unscrupulous administrator and owners, having managers with zero training micromanaging your every move in the classroom, dealing with flagrant labor law violations, having no authority in the classroom and working in physically unsafe environments then yes, I absolutely want no part of that. I wouldn’t stand to be manipulated, cheated, threatened and undermined as an educator back home so why on earth would I stand for it in a country half-way around the world where I am not a citizen and have no rights?

    Finally, your brand of casual cynicism is not just distasteful, it’s hypocritical. You want Americans to come to your school, no doubt because that is a big selling point to your customers-the perceived higher quality educator by virtue of growing up and being educated in the U.S, and you thereby directly profit off of this perception. Yet you want Americans who will be compliant and not complain about conditions at your school/in your country. In other words, you want to take advantage of Americans for what they are when it is advantageous for you to do so, yet you want to disregard them as such when it is not.

    Fortunately, I and a lot of other posters on here are not as naive as you would like us to be. I see right through your post for exactly what you are: yet another individual who has co-opted what is basically an essential public service for personal profit. There are thousands of people like you the world over, turning education into a “business”. Every now and then one of you pops up on this website, always trying to sound reasonable and different. You’re not. You sound no different from any other fly-by-night “education industry” operator I’ve come across. That you are more open and forthcoming about it does not win you any marks, it just makes you easier to spot.

    Then again, maybe that’s a good thing after all.


  2. I have worked in public schools in three states in the United States.
    Also, I have worked in international schools. American teachers
    inflate grades and state tests are dumbed – down so more students
    will pass. It is common for U. S. students to fail grade level bench mark tests and have high grades from teachers and pass the state tests.
    U. S. college grades are inflated. Review the Chronicle of Higher Education. Also, requirements have been lowered for master’s, and doctorate degrees.


  3. A useful report on dodgy practices in education comes from a German source:

    The founders of Transparency International were motivated by a commitment to the principles of UN development institutions, and a concern that corruption was undermining Third World societies. So if teachers express horror at corrupt practices like ‘paying for grades’ in schools peddling so-called ‘international education’, they are not therefore demanding ‘American standards’. These principles apply to all schools delivering education in an international context, whether that is seen as Western, developed or developing.


  4. It is true that every country has its own way of working. I agree with the author’s comments, “Teachers come over here with perceptions of how things should be, and when reality doesn’t meet their expectations they try to tailor the experience to an American criteria.” Being closed minded, unwilling to change or to try a different culture will make any new experience ‘in country’ or ‘out’ a difficult and challenging one. Although, for the teachers who do not fall in to this category is the only other option to just “go with the flow?” Perhaps the author does not understand American culture or even worse faces a grave philosophical ignorance as an educator.

    Education is to lead people to the truth, unbiased, unadulterated, and pure; deepening our understanding of life and maximizing our full potential. This shows itself practically in being held accountable for our actions, a valuing and rewarding of hard work and honesty, respecting and valuing all people, providing a forum for discussion and debate, giving clear expectations of high standards and support to encourage everyone to rise to greater achievement. This unfortunately, is being and has been in contention and in a state of challenge in the US for decades now. I do not tout as an American that the education system is perfect by any means. Favoritism and special privileges to the rich are present and on going here too.

    A grade is a truthful evaluation of a persons understanding, which can change and develop over time. Who would want a doctor, teacher, engineer, financier or pilot to have purchased their degree yet not have a proficiency in their profession and not comprehend the basis of knowledge in their field? This would produce destruction and ruin for the one who purchased their grade and for all who depend on them.

    This is not an American ideal I speak of, but a humanitarian ideal we must all strive for. A young Pakistani girl named Malala was shot in the head for advocating these ideals. She states “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” Is she advocating for a system where you can buy a grade? Is this “basic right” something that can be achieved without work and effort? Rather, education offers a door way for those who would dare to labor to step through it

    Perhaps those who would buy a grade, do not understand nor appreciate what educational is. Edsger Dijkstra(a non-American), a dutch computer scientist says, “Why has elegance found so little following? That is the reality of it. Elegance has the disadvantage, if that’s what it is, that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it.” Perhaps the root behind a culture or philosophy of buying a grade lacks the ‘elegance’ and ability to work hard and thus lacks the appreciation of a good education.

    Confucius (a non-American) is quoted speaking of education, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop,” is referring to a persevering of effort to gain understanding and to not give up. He is not promoting a system where how much money you have determines your grade and continuing in education. This ‘cowardice’ of hard work is found in America as well, and yet opportunity is still provide to those who would be determined to work hard to achieve it. This purchasing of a grade would produce incompetence and foolishness; and is a lie.

    Sheikh Zayed (a non-American), the first ruler of the UAE has said, “The real asset of any advanced nation is its people, especially the educated ones, and the prosperity and success of the people are measured by the standard of their education.” What is education and what is the standard of education if it is bought? This ruler understood that people who just have money have nothing, without education and therefore he promoted and encouraged his people to get educated. Education, having a thorough and complete understanding of the truth is the greater factor in a peoples success and prosperity then money.

    I will close with a question for the author taken from a quote. “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world,” said by Paulo Freire, in Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Would a condoning of purchasing a grade be conforming to the present system of lying and favoritism of the rich or would it be a means of producing a better world for everyone?


  5. Dear HM,

    Perhaps you are the problem and not solution for an improvment in your Middle Eastern Society–regardless of the fact that you feel respected as of today (2014). However, in other Middle Eastern lands and in parts of your own city, many parents are tired of the status quo of the wealthiest buying degrees and advantages without learning enough in school or in their education years.

    In short, they are beginning to ask for diplomas that have meaning. As the years go on, your gung-ho go-with-status-quo leadership will not only be sneered at but condemned at by coming age of new parents and unemployed youth.

    Kevin A. Stoda


  6. Hi all,

    I am quite happy at my institution, however I felt compelled to respond to this post.

    The teacher who made the ISIS comment needs to leave the middle-east. The level of disrespect for arab culture and religion from some teachers at international schools is something I find unpalatable. Thus, I dissociate myself from their comments.

    I find this owner’s comments quite disturbing. He / she may have been educated abroad and have slapped an ‘American’ or ‘British’ shingle on the front of their school but they have clearly not benefited from their own international educational experience. Thus, if the clock could be wound back I would instruct this future owner to stay at home for their tertiary education (just returning the sentiment in the owner’s last paragraph).

    I’m sorry Mr or Mrs Owner but if you own an international school it must meet international criteria in terms of curriculum, infrastructure, teachers etc. Otherwise you own a ‘shingle’ school, not an international school and yes, I’m sure you are acutely aware of the difference.

    The ‘go with the flow’ comment that followed your lack of labor laws spiel is the most disturbing. Reading between the lines it is very clear that your philosophy is not conducive to education, your philosophy is only conducive for maximizing profit and cheapening the value of a diploma. I hope to never work with you or meet you.

    I understand as an owner you are pragmatic, but negotiating with parents, about grades, is nothing short of unethical. You may be respected within your own culture, but I see that as a flaw in your culture (and all cultures have flaws, including mine). I am here because I think I can make a difference in regards to my students earning their grades and their opportunities through merit alone.

    Education is not just about curriculum but also about life lessons. I will not loose my sense of idealism because of people like you. I am fortunate to work at an institution that is not owned and administered by someone with your outlook. However, if I was unfortunate enough to work at your institution please rest assured I would choose to leave.

    I really hope you leave the education industry, truly I do.


  7. And here’s the gift the west has given the rest of the world, especially those 1% in the US:

    And you think it’s “disgusting” when the richer locals in developing nations try to give a leg up to their children? That’s hypocrisy or ignorance. Or maybe you don’t like feeling like a servant. Your next move should be back home.


  8. Rich people buying their way through life, using money to gain advantage for their children, dollars to ensure better healthcare and to buy opportunity? Let me think, what country does that sound like?


  9. I have lived and worked in six different countries outside my native USA. I have been a teacher K-12 , as well as an administrator and I am now an IB coordinator. I am considered to be a very fexible and adaptable person, both socially and professionally these last 20 years of working internationally on five continents.
    That said and speaking from experience, I can only say that I am disgusted by the comments made by H.M.. It is that kind of leadership (and its accompanying attitude) that can discourage and demoralize good teachers. All teaching professionals, whether American or nationals of the host country, have the same honorable values and should be respected for the contributions they are making. I cannot really add to what has already been said above in the responses of Carol, Johnny, Paul, but only state that I agree with most of what each one said. Most of all, I also have the same “wish” stated in number 2 of Jonathan´s response. Where is this HM person? I am ready to move again in a year or so and I DEFINITELY want to avoid his school and the likes of anyone else like him.


  10. It took me a few years as an administrator overseas to figure it out, but the goal is to give the owners/Board what they want for the students in their schools. Just slapping “American” on the name of a building doesn’t mean the culture or subculture holds the same values as are held in the USA. Learning those values and deciding if you can work under those conditions are keys to ultimate success.


  11. Private schools charge tuition. They are selling a product to parents. What is that product? Is it a quality education that prepares their student for university and career success? Is it 12 years of expensive babysitting and a colorful piece of paper suitable for framing? If a schools owner is up front about this I don’t see the problem. But when a school claims to be using common core state standards, I.B., or British Curriculum but is not, that is when I question the ethics of the school leadership.

    I think that parents need to understand that it is not the norm to buy grades in the U.S. or Canada. If their goal is to have their student graduate from a university in North America they need to be prepared to put in the work.


  12. Awesome. I think this is exactly right in many instances. Not all of course but we do need to realize we are in a different place 🙂 so glad you wrote this AND it was published!


  13. I’ve been working overseas for 14 years now and have never worked at a school where grades could be purchased. I find the school owner’s comments disgusting and lacking integrity. What kind of leader condones bribery?


  14. I currently work in the Washington D.C. area in a highly regarded school system and WE ARE EXPECTED TO PASS OUR SENIORS. This is political and financial….it’s not just going on in international schools unfortunately. The UTube video says it all. I am shocked at the low level of knowledge in American schools. After 15 years overseas I see a huge decline in American education. Lots of arrogant, overfed, simple people.


  15. I couldn’t agree with the attitude and beliefs of this administrator more. Having taught internationally for 15 years, I shyed away from teachers he described and shook my head. Also, looking for non American schools helped. I also think that in my last years overseas I saw more teachers coming overseas who couldn’t get jobs in the US and Canada. My question is, why do schools hire these naive teachers?


  16. I work in KSA. In my ESL program, on a military base, the leadership has decreed that all students will pass this year. So we have “reorganized” the testing and guess what? As of our last test, we have 99% passing! Did we get paid for the month? Yes, we did.


  17. When I first was confronted with this negotiating of marks in Egypt, I felt, as I do today, that, if you practise this, you can hardly call yourself a developing nation. You are and will remain under- developed unless and until your youth get a real education. Buying marks does not do it. In my 14 years of overseas experience, I have now seen many of my former students with bought diplomas from the school go on to fail miserably in French, British, Canadian and US universities. Those who have succeeded are those who have learned study habits, worked, done assignments, and earned their grades, mostly IB diplomas. Those who have been sold high school diplomas are set up in Daddy’s bank or other business or in government administrations where they perpetuate the non-developing of their nation.


    1. Ironic though that many of those perpetuating the non-development of their nation are supported by money from the US government while it suits the US agenda.


  18. I’m an American educator, living and teaching abroad. I don’t apologize for my beliefs and I don’t support unethical behavior from anyone. By the way, my wife is not an American, having grown up under the Soviet system and taught in several former Soviet republics. Interestingly enough, she and I have the same views about what is moral and ethical. HM attempts to paint with broad strokes, denigrating the “American” educators. My fellow educators in my current international school come from America, Canada, Brazil, Mauritius, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, China, Venezuela, to name a few. We’re at an IB school, that expects high standards from administrators, teachers, students, and parents. Guess what? We ALL have the same views about what is proper in an educational environment.

    Do I like to watch TV shows from America? Of course. Do I like food from America? Of course. I will never apologize for liking what I like. My wife also likes what she likes. No one has the right to expect us to bend to a certain culture and to abandon what makes us who we are. And concerning grades, do I expect students to earn the grades they receive? Of course!

    HM’s view that it is acceptable to “negotiate” with parents is 100% wrong. Try to justify poor behavior any way you choose, but wrong is wrong and right is right. HM’s unethical stance is endemic of what is wrong in so many international schools. The focus is not really on providing quality education to children, to make the world a better place. Rather, HM’s focus is on making money and gaining higher status among other unethical people.

    I’ve taught at privately owned schools in the Middle East and in Far East Asia. I’ve also taught at non-profit schools. Not all privately owned schools are low quality, like HM’s, but there does tend to be a lot of moral and ethical flexibility at schools where the bottom line is profit. For me, I never want to work at a privately owned international school, that focuses on profit. Education should not be concerned with lining a greedy person’s pockets, it should be about providing the very best educational experiences for children.


    1. I always cringe when teachers call themselves ‘educators’, as if they’re somehow embarrassed by what they do, and that by becoming an ‘educator’ they are better than the rest of us.

      How did you come to the conclusion that HM’s school is low quality?

      And your statement that ‘no one has the right to expect us to bend to a certain culture’ is incredibly arrogant. In fact, that attitude is the reason why america is held in such low esteem by a large part of the world’s population. Your culture is not the only one, the best one, or the right one. You’re a visitor. Act like a guest.


    2. You cringe because a teacher will call themselves an educator? Really? Maybe your definition of an educator is different than my own. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Just like I will never apologize for being who I am, I will also never apologize for being an educator. Being an educator has nothing to do with thinking we are better than the rest. An educator is a teacher. A teacher is an educator. Deal with it.

      Concerning HM’s school being low quality… if they are willing to negotiate grades with unsatisfied parents, then they are low quality, IMHO. Standards are standards, not a rubber stamp.

      And yes, no one has the right to expect another to bend to a certain culture – another way of naming that is “tolerance.” That includes me not expecting others to bend to mine. That’s not arrogance, it a simple human right to live as we see fit. However, when someone displays dishonesty or moral flexibility, then it is reasonable to not support such behavior. The fact that you jump to the immediate insult that America is held in low esteem because of my own personal moral code is false logic on your part. My views have nothing to do with being American. And by the way, I am also a dual citizen of a former Soviet republic, so is that country also arrogant because of my beliefs? You need to learn how to separate the man from the country.

      I certainly know how to be a guest of another country. But a guest is still expected to have their own beliefs. As an “educator,” I believe selling grades to the highest bidder, or in this case, adjusting grades for an unhappy parent, is a lie and a theft. Anytime the truth is altered, due to not being convenient, it is wrong… in every culture.


    3. If someone asks what you do for a living and you answer “educator”, they’re none the wiser. Say “teacher” and everyone understands that you work in a school. It’s the better word. As a teacher I prefer clarity. As an Englishman I like to see my language used properly. I do deal with it. I deal with stupidity every day.

      As to the rest of your response, it’s largely irrelevant as you’re clearly still blinded by your cultural baggage, and still intent on lecturing other cultures how they should behave.


  19. I am a teacher and I think that is a fantastic reply by the school owner. Sure I don’t agree with buying grades but I agree with the fact that teachers should remain in their own country or go back quickly if they don’t approach international teaching with an open mind. Not sure about the American bit as this message applies to all nationalities and I know some amazing American educators perfectly suited to International Teaching. Another tip: If you don’t want your country trashed, don’t let on where you’re from.


  20. I rarely comment on these threads but looking at some of the replies already I felt complied to do so this time round…

    This owner should be commended for coming on & giving an honest view point & telling it how it is. Dropping him into ISIS territory, what sort of ridiculous comment is that outside one that incites hate on this thread? If Anonymous who wrote that is an educator then I would have more serious concerns if one of my children was under your care!

    Working in this industry for over 10 years one thing that still astounds me is that no one forces a western teacher or manager to work in a foreign country. Should you decide to do so then you work on a contract to the labour laws of that country. Pure & simple & if you don’t like it, leave & go back to work in your own country. Every contract that I have seen has a minimum initial 3 month probation period giving you this opportunity to leave.

    Many leave their own home country with some crazy perception that they will come home a wealthy person. Smell the roses please as the Education industry globally isn’t (& will never) be a high salary earning industry. It is a middle of the road salary based industry. Come on – you don’t need to go to the best universities globally to train as a teacher & you don’t need the top senior exam scores to get into a teaching course. Course fees are nowhere near the same region as high salary industries such as Medical, Law. These days you can be fast tracked in teacher shortage western regions (UK & US) you can fast tracked to become a teacher in 12 months once you hold a Bachelor degree. However what many look past is the advantage of working in Education abroad isn’t about financial rewards. Instead one should be thinking of the unbelievable travel & cultural experience not afforded to many other industries. It allows you to live a comfortable lifestyle in the process.

    When I interview a candidate (I’m a recruitment agent) I screen to get an idea of the following…

    1. Can you work in an school who has an intention (in many cases the number one intention) of making a profit for its owners each year?

    2. Can you work in a school where it’s likely that the owner(s) of the school don’t understand international education (or have a particular interest to do so)?

    3. Do you have a very left wing approach to Education & will this view be difficult for you to see past when working abroad?

    If I feel that a candidate has an issue with either of the above 3 questions I tell them flat out that working in Education abroad isn’t for you through our agency. I don’t care if they are a Principal of 20+ years of experience or a teacher with 2 years experience. If you don’t get the business v education relationship when it comes to working abroad in developing (& in some cases developed/non English speaking) countries than don’t put yourself through the heartache of working in education abroad. You have more chance of feeling disillusioned & hating the Education industry as a result.

    Calling any school an American (or British school for that matter) can come down to simply hiring a few American or British trained teachers, having a few American or British students attend, a loosely based American or British curriculum, an American or British owner, some American or British philosophy on education or simply the owner married to an American or British person. What I’m getting at is it rarely means much as an owner knows that having an American or British influence/relationship (particularly in the title) with the school that they will open will attract parents who will hopefully pay the high fees to sign up their kids at the school. Parents typically don’t have a lot of choice & feel safe that their is some British or American association with where they will be sending their child.. Don’t kid yourself it is going to be some independent level of Education that you see back in the US or UK just because they charge fees that match this. They can charge these sorts of fees as they simply can. How many “franchise” of top independent schools in the US & UK do you now see opening up every year abroad? Heaps – as they know it is a potential gravy train where government ministries of developing countries are given plenty of $$ from independent schools to get a licence to open their doors & charge (in many cases) high fees as they aim to attract the families of wealthy local & families of top multinational companies in the area to their school. The shortage of international schools in developing countries is massive. Simple supply v demand at play.

    This will continue to be an issue in developing countries with a growing middle class who will do whatever they can to give their child what they perceive is a western based education. If you are thinking of working in Education in a developing country go in open minded & well researched. You don’t want to come out doubting yourself as an educator & hating the profession you feel in love with.


    1. What agency do you work at? I’d like to avoid you as much as I’d like to avoid H.M.’s school. If he and you were so proud, I’d think you’d post more information on this discussion so that we educators with ethics (not the same as being inflexible or culturally insensitive) can avoid trying to register with you or applying to H.M.’s school.

      I’ve been overseas for 7 years. I’ve been at some good quality International Schools (not American Schools), and I’ve been at some bad quality International Schools. I’ve never encountered grade buying. That is not education, and that is not what we go overseas for. And, many of us do not go overseas to become wealthy – we do want the travel and cultural experiences, but we also expect to be educators, not babysitters.


    2. I appreciate Michael’s response because it sounds like he is upfront with teaching candidates about the ethos of for-profit schools. Transparency like this is critical for all concerned.

      The problem for some of us educators—and I’d be very interested to have your assessment of this Michael—is that the leadership of such schools is not always quite as transparent with prospective teachers as you have been. Schools have a bit of a vested interest in looking good to their various stakeholders, and that sometimes obscures important things about their ways of carrying on the business of education.

      Some such schools need to say something like this: “We recognize that there are lots of intangible aspects of Western educational systems which foreign teachers consider important to student learning, but which we can’t support for cost reasons. In the end these things are expensive, and our clients (local parents) don’t value them enough for us to provide them.” If they could be upfront about the kinds of things which Western teachers might expect or assume, but which they simply and deliberately choose not to support, it would be better for everyone.

      I don’t fault anyone for trying to provide a service at a profit, even an educational service. Parents with money want their children to have reputation and success. (Yes, they want them to learn, but in my experience here locally, reputation is clearly first on the list, and success and learning are important because they contribute to reputation.) Schools spring up to help parents meet these goals. The problem isn’t in the basic dynamic of a for-profit service. The problem is that in building its image and brand, the school (of necessity?) is not fully transparent about everything that their primary goals entail. Building a brand means emphasizing the positive, not listing everything your product or service isn’t.

      But if a school wants to hire foreign teachers, the school needs a certain level of transparency toward those teachers. To teach at a school, you really want to buy into the school’s vision, otherwise you’ll be frustrated at every turn when your basic assumptions about what a school is and how it should work are not shared by the school leadership.

      So I don’t think anyone should chide Michael here. If you don’t want to teach for a for-profit school, he’s actually making it easy for you by pointing you elsewhere. Hiring schools should be at least this transparent. I’ve written too much or I’d add that teacher candidates should also try to be transparent about the myriad expectations and assumptions that they are coming in with. They also have a responsibility to figure out ahead of time if those expectations are really likely to be met. There is a burden of transparency on both sides.


  21. These are not ‘American’ expectations. And to label all Americans as people who can’t handle the international experience is rubbish. After 14 years overseas, I see Brits, Aussies, Canadians . . . , it doesn’t matter, they all complain about aspects of international life and teaching that doesn’t meet their expectations from home. We are all in the same boat. Some people handle it better than others, but its not about where they are from. Yes, corruption is everywhere, but educators must have standards of integrity and honesty. If you complain about those traits as being, ‘American,’ then God Bless the USA. You obviously learned nothing from your own international experience.

    Instead of asking Americans to go with the flow, you should set out to improve your own culture’s obvious shortcomings. No one respects a criminal. The fact that you think you have parents ‘respect,’ because you can be bought, is truly sad. Go work at a school where students have to work hard and earn their grades. Then, finally you will know real respect and the pride that comes with being a true educator.


    1. I think the entire planet would be grateful if America could set out to improve some of its culture’s obvious shortcomings.


    2. Ah, isn’t it interesting that a culture with such “obvious shortcomings” is the one with the greatest influx of immigrants? In fact, about 5 times greater than the next closest country. We must be doing something right if so many folks want in.


    3. Try reordering this list to get Immigrants as a percentage of national population – the US is nowhere near the top.
      The top choices are filled to capacity, so it’s any port in a storm, even if it is the biggest bully on the street.
      Then again, consider the less desirable economic migrants, the refugees. Again, order by refugees per native population. The US takes in 1 refugee for every 1200 US citizens:
      There are 60+ countries ahead of the US (probably many more, but data is not available), some of them the poorest in the world. The UK takes in 3x as many as the US.
      I would think many, possibly the majority, of those refugees are a result of the west’s (primarily the US) pursuit of energy (ie oil), and the instability caused to prop up ‘favoured’ undemocratic regimes.

      I wonder how many US immigrants are Mexicans returning to the homeland the US booted them out of.


  22. I approached my ‘international’ experience like a missionary – I had over 20 years experience in schools, in a national curriculum office and implementing IB programmes. I looked forward to contributing to the development of quality education in a country with low performance on an international indicator (PISA).

    Instead, I found I had to actively and constantly practice my ‘open-mindedness’. Or was it gullibility?

    -In one school, I found a library full of photocopied books, listened to downloaded music at promotional events, saw unacknowledged images in the school’s promotional material (‘”Don’t worry, we are in Country X; our owner is one of the country’s top tax payers and therefore we know we are immune to prosecution for breaking international copyright laws.”).

    -In another school, education was firmly in the 50s – the time the owner had been to school. Instead of ‘chalk and talk’, an army of administrators checked teachers had used their interactive whiteboards (‘Powerpoint-and-talk’) to deliver the lesson plan completed months in advance, and the daily reports by teachers on their lessons. None of the people doing the checking had educational degrees, or any understanding of child psychology or learning. None had won their positions on merit of their knowledge and experience.

    Well, HM, professionally qualified educators come to your school hoping to make a difference. Hoping to work collegially with local staff to show them the ropes.

    If you read international comparisons like PISA reports (all available free online), you will know that in countries where students achieve highly on this indicator, teachers are trusted, they have a lot of ownership of how they deliver the curriculum (in some cases, even the curriculum!) and students likewise have a ‘voice’. These are the practices that are now valued highly – not just in the US, but in many countries. Even highly developed countries (like the USA) reflect carefully on these reports to see how they can move on and improve. Education systems invest in these comparisons because most leaders in most countries care about the education of their future citizens, knowing this is how this will empower their country for global leverage. Education is so much more than just a business.

    You are of course very welcome to have a different opinion, but the world moves on. Your attitude risks widening the gap between the developing world and the developed world (which seems able to confront its ‘warts’ and consider change). If you are not prepared to take change on board, your school will not just remain a backwater, it will stagnate.

    I also know, personally, that I will never again give years of my life to an environment where the leadership is not prepared to at least engage in dialogue with me. I am too good an educator. I want to be able to work with colleagues that will not be discarded like used tissues, when they become too expensive to employ, or query some knee-jerk decision by a non-educator. And most of all, I want to make a sustainable difference to the children I work with, and that does not include extrinsic rewards like unearned certificates.


    1. Absolutely not religion. But, ‘education for a better and fairer world’ Happy to work at a fraction of the normal salary. Accept substandard accommodation. But, if you well-meant contribution is met with arrogance, no qualms about taking passion elsewhere.


  23. One thing that HM says strikes a chord with me. He says “your teachers really don’t want a true international experience. I think what they really want is a teaching experience just like in any school in America but with an international backdrop.”
    I know teachers who get their TV programs from home, eat food from home, do everything they can to recreate home rather than enjoy and learn about the new culture in which they are teaching. I wonder why they go abroad. Then I remember that wages and conditions are poor and getting worse in many states, and know why they are abroad.


  24. Not only dishonest but despicable, reprehensible, unethical, criminal and an insult to decent educators everywhere – the U.S. and otherwise. He needs to be outed, his school banned and closed and all who received diplomas from there to have them revoked. Pretty much he should be halo-dropped into ISIS territory with CIA or “Crusader” tattooed on hos forehead and body.


    1. While there are some unsettling details in HM’s post regarding his international school, your response is far more unsettling, and strongly re-enforces all of the negative stereotypes associated with Americans held by the rest of the world. Please think before you write. (Other than thinking that you shouldn’t include your name.)


    2. Agreed. This is actually a very good thread, with the exception of the threatening bile expressed by Anonymous. I really appreciated HM’s honesty and I have been living with it in developing countries for years. If you settle democratic ideas in only a few student heads, things may change. A new teacher’s college is going up on my work premises..


    3. Very disappointed in this response, actually very alarmed. Please, you are giving the teaching profession a bad name. What you said is just awful


    4. ISR–You need a flag! This comment is beyond the pale and needs to be removed. What about the democratic values of free speech–or does that only apply when people say things you agree with? While I question some of HMs comments, he does have a point. While I don’t think one needs to “go native,” and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with watching your favorite TV shows from home, there arepeople who expect everything to be just like home and have fits when the repairman shows up 3 days after he said he would, or a school can’t get them exactly what they want when they want it.

      Having said that, there are FAR too many schools (and I used to work at one), who consider the contract as just so much worthless paper, will lie their way through interviews just to get the teaching bodies and see students as profit machines.


    5. The democratic values of free speech dictate leaving the post posted. I disagree with the post, but we cannot bar others from reading it because it doesn’t suit us. Otherwise, there would be no free speech. If nothing else, it helps stimulate an important debate.


    6. Mate, have you not seen those youtube clips, the great job american ‘educators’ are doing? 80% of americans couldn’t even find the middle east on a map, let alone drop him in there. They might be up to the tatooing though.


  25. As an American who has worked as an IT Consultant as well as a Credentialed Teacher in several different countries, I am a little surprised at some of the “School Owner’s” remarks.

    If the owner accepts extra tuition for a weak student AND provides extra support for that student to enable success, I have no problem. I do have a problem with a school that takes the extra money, shunts the student to an overcrowded “dumbbell” class, and then – money in hand – kicks out the student or issues an empty diploma. Of course, some colleges and trade schools in the US are famous for the same behavior.

    “Going with the flow” can mean many things. In China, one does not discuss the Dalai Lama, Taiwan, or slave labor. In several countries, I had evidence of cheating, but could not pinpoint it. I did use the occasions to remind students that cheating would have much larger consequences in the US… and asked whether they would like to fly to the US on planes that had been serviced by – and piloted by – students who had cheated for and/or bought their licenses. As teachers anywhere, we can not right all wrongs. Prudence and judgment are guides, but not infallible.

    I value my foreign teaching experience and would do it again. I also value my American education, and – judiciously – touted its virtues in foreign settings. ###


  26. When a school calls itself an “American” school, it is explicitly saying it subscribes to American standards and expectations. While I agree that many teachers do come overseas without doing their homework, faulting them for expecting American standards at an American school with American curriculum is unreasonable.


    1. Most schools that call themselves “American” or “British” are basing their curriculum on those countries. For example, I taught at the American Bilingual School in Kuwait (known by another name now). We used the New York curriculum, which is American. I wonder if they’ll be switching to common core. 🙂


  27. This negotiating of grades is not uncommon with some schools in the western hemisphere, as well. If grades are available to be negotiated, why hire excellent teachers? Why not just pull grades from a hat? What happened to integrity?


    1. I agree 100%. Just hire white faces and tell them to change grades accordingly and not worry about the method of instruction.

      As far as HM goes:

      1.) Using his/her logic it is acceptable to exploit workers, cheat others…etc because well that is how things work here. It reminds me of the story with the monkeys who attacked the new monkeys when they attempted to get the banana on top of the ladder.

      2.) I wish HM said the name of their school so I can avoid it.

      3.) Going to University in the USA does not equal being familiar with the culture.

      4.) “going with the flow” must be code for shut up and take whatever crap we give you.

      5.) Justifying bad behavior by saying you are respected is laughable.


    2. Johnny, I recommend you stay within western confines where you work. Outside these, you will not survive.


    3. Totally agree with all 5 points – and all unfortunately sound all to familiar at my (for profit) school in Malaysia!
      @Eastern Star – are you serious??? Are you saying that if you want to teach abroad, that you should leave all your moral values at home and accept whatever corruption and mistreatment comes your way?
      Absolutely ridiculous!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.